These things definitely happened:
1.) I unexpectedly found myself sharing the same room with Philip Glass at the premier of Godfrey Reggio’s Visitors (Glass composed the score). I was slightly star-struck, which is very uncharacteristic for me.
2.) Later, I also unexpectedly found myself desperately fleeing the theater as soon as the credits started in order to avoid hearing Glass and Reggio discuss the process behind their terrible, terrible fucking film.
3.) Much of Visitors consisted of actors looking out of the screen at the audience with various profound, surprised, or amused expressions slapped on their stupid, stupid faces. In order to make it through the film, I actually started pretending that all of the actors were reacting to footage of a man fucking a pig, which helped immensely. I plan to be constantly on the look-out for other opportunities to employ this very effective tactic. I think I have broken through a very important barrier here and freed myself from the shackles of passive spectator-hood forever.
4.) I made a frantic dash around town at 7am one morning to secure a ticket for a sold-out screening of MANAKAMANA after reading a review that stated that there were a ton of walk-outs at the previous day’s press & industry screening. As usual, my instincts were dead-on, as it was arguably the best film I saw all week. Fuck you, herd.
5.) I had the most depressing breakfast of my life at a Howard Johnsons that I had hurriedly booked in order to extend my stay. As I was chewing my subpar bagel in absolute silence below the flickering fluorescent lights of the cafeteria, i immediately thought “god, this is like a scene out of an Ulrich Seidl film.” But then I remembered that I had just seen a Seidl film (set at a fat camp, no less) and that it was not nearly as depressing as my breakfast. It felt like I was at a going-away party for myself at an office job that i hated…on a dark, rainy day…that absolutely no one else showed up for at all. Soul-destroying. I bet people who travel a lot for work have experiences like that every day, but presumably most of them are salesmen that lack any souls to destroy, so it is probably ok..
6.) I attended a screening of a giallo homage called The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tearsand sat behind five or six extreme horror nerds, which led to some pretty amazing eavesdropping. Notably, I have now unraveled the secret to succeeding socially within that particular subculture: buy every Dario Argento film on every available format immediately and try to make goddamn sure that you are the first person you know to purchase any new reissues that come out. The more you pay, the better. Also, you get bonus points for obscurity (i.e.- owning the Japanese laserdisc version of Zombi). Additionally, it is very important to chuckle knowingly at any reference to any violent film ever made, such as a character in this particular film being named “Edwige” (after vintage giallo lust-object Edwige Fenech).
7.) I went to a bookstore on the fringes of Chinatown/Little Portugal called Monkey’s Paw that was kind of an (utterly unsustainable) dream come true for me, as they exclusively “select their stock according to an aesthetic formula: the beautiful, the arcane, the macabre, the absurd.” They also have a “creepy display of insect carcasses,” a collection of antique typewriters, and a “Biblio-Mat,” which is a vending machine that dispenses random books (I got Forest Trees of Ontario, unfortunately). On the downside, everything was crazily expensive and the emphasis was much more on arcane/absurd than “good,” but the proprietor was very cool and swear-y in a way that reminded me favorably of Black Books.
8.) I got stranded at the border for almost three hours on my way back home, as Immigration’s computers went down. Everybody on my bus began to go slowly mad, which was pretty fun to witness. My favorite part came when one woman called her daughter to tell her that she was going to miss whatever she was headed home for, then added “I am never taking a bus anywhere ever again.” This amusingly inspired many other people on the bus to then chime in (one-by-one) with some variation of “me neither!” in a wide variety of languages and accents. It was a lot like “the wave” at a sporting event, only it was an infectious, unanimous voicing of exasperation and disgust rather than enthusiasm. Which I am, of course, the target demographic for.
These things did NOT happen, but easily could have:
1.) I did not enter a Freddy Mercury Look-Alike & Mustache Contest.
2.) I did not attend a “Rock Eucharist” at the Church of the Redeemer (“featuring the music of The Beatles!”).
3.) I did not buy tickets for what appeared to be an all-black stage adaptation of A Clockwork Orange with lots of dancing.
4.) I did not attend a Clockwork Orange-themed party in a re-creation of the Korovo Milk Bar.
5.) I did not attend a Smallest Dog Contest or an Ugliest Dog Contest.
6.) I did not attend Haute Dog, where people had their dogs walk down red carpets-just like all the hottest celebs at the film fest!
7.) I did not buy a ticket for a Charles Dickens-themed “literary detective walk.”
8.) I did not attend a musical parade of people dressed like biblical characters entitled “Jesus in the City.”
9.) I did not get Toronto’s best golden shower and/or prostate massage from a Lebanese woman named Sabah.
10.) I did not partake of the services of “Honey,” even though her ad assured me that she was a “tiny perfect spinner” and “perfect for [my] dick.”
11.) I did not book a Caribbean Sex Vacation (“No Tipping!”).
12.) I did not take a guided tour of a cemetery that is awesomely called The Necropolis. I legitimately regret this.
13.) I did not pay $75 to see Robert DeNiro speak at Massey Hall. The existence of this event is actually one of my favorite things about my trip, as it had absolutely no affiliation with the film festival at all. Which essentially means that thousands and thousands of cinephiles descended on Toronto en mass for ten days of the best films in the world and that just about every person doing anything interesting in cinema RIGHT NOW would be giving their own talks (for free, more or less). And that someone presumably thought “God, this city is going to be absolutely teeming with film-related events. What are people who don’t care about film at all supposed to do? I know! I’ll counter-program a talk with Robert DeNiro, as only someone with no interest in contemporary film at all could possibly enjoy that. I bet he has a lot of wacky stories about playing a cranky dad in an endless stream of totally forgettable shit!”